Friday, June 27, 2014

Leaning In

I’m part of a new, small little book club with some amazing women. We chose Lean In for our first book. I love to read and usually read pretty quickly but I INHALED this book. I think I finished it in 2 days. Every single page spoke to me and it could not have come at a better time in my personal and professional life. If you haven’t read it yet, do it. If you can’t commit to the whole book, at least check out Sheryl Sandberg’s TedTalk for the highlights.

Today, I got some amazing news at work. I was accepted to participate in a Leadership Institute for State Advocate class with the Annie E Casey Foundation. This is only the second time they have offered this class and I’m one of 18 people participating from across the country. This is a tremendous investment on the part of the Foundation and I think is a true reflection of their priority to improve the lives of America’s children through advocacy work.  It’s a fantastic experience but also a tremendous investment on my part: additional work outside of my usual work load and frequent travel for the 18 months beginning in November.

When I first got the application, I was excited but nervous. Should I do this? Could I do this? After much hemming and hawing (and discussion with husband and colleagues), I completed the application and submitted it.  But I was torn. I’ve always been ambitious with my career but I’m a mom now. And like it or not, that changes everything in a big way. I wasn’t sure I wanted to or could do something that would keep me away from my baby girl and her daddy.

But as God would have it, I started reading this book on my way to the interview for the leadership institute. And the more I thought and the more I read, the clearer it became. This rare opportunity before me was giving me the chance to lean in to my career and lean in to my family. The happier I am and the more opportunities I have at work, the more committed and satisfied I am with my work. And the more satisfied I am outside of my house, the more satisfied and dedicated I am to what goes on at my house.  But I wasn’t going to have those opportunities for growth and advancement personally and professionally if I didn’t lean in.

Now, I know I’m just at the beginning. I’m excited today but there is no doubt a long road ahead of me.  But I have to take this moment to say to all the career moms who struggle with this every. single. day (and as I reminder to myself when this journey gets rocky) LEAN IN. Lean in with everything you have. I know, some days it hurts like hell and you just cannot give one more ounce of yourself to anyone. But we aren’t going to make this world any better for our own kids and for all our children, if we don’t take the opportunities that are right in front of us, staring us in the face.

I don't know what other opportunities await me but for now, I'm going to enjoy this moment. I'm going to pick my little one up child care and celebrate over a dinner out and no dishes to clean. And then I'm going to lean in to my bed (because it's been an incredibly tiring week) and stay there at least until 7am tomorrow morning. Because we all know toddlers love to sleep in on a Saturday.

Here's to leaning in and new adventures....

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer is Here!

Although it's not "official" until tomorrow, summer is definitely here in South Carolina! We've been at or close to 100 degrees every day this week. The summer thunderstorms roll in almost like clockwork every afternoon. And we've got at least 3 more months of this. Welcome to the South! :)

Despite the sweltering heat, I love this time of year. Ok, I really love EVERY time of year but I REALLY love summer. Long days, outdoor activities, cool drinks. Can't beat it. 

Last year, I created a summer to-do list of all the things I wanted to do as a family. As always, I was a little ambitious but I think we managed to make our way at least half way through the list and had a great time doing it.

While I have yet to make an official list for summer 2014, I did come across a great blog post I just had to share with some excellent ideas. I'm sure we will do some of our usual warm weather activities like trips to the beach, outings to the zoo and farmers market, and visits to the pool. I would like to try some new things like check out the splash pad at Saluda Shoals or ride a train in Winnsboro. I'm loving the fact that Emily is older this year and able to do and enjoy new activities. The good times truly keep coming and it's a wonderful thing. :)

Whatever you do this summer, be sure to stay hydrated.  And don't try to take this girl's water bottle as her daddy found out the hard way. Let's just say there were big tears during the start of a very quiet wedding.

The look says it all.

Here's to summer 2014!


Monday, June 9, 2014

Overuse of the F Word

I have a growing problem. I’m starting to realize that I say the F word…a lot.

No, not that F word. 


I am constantly forgetting something. I forget I’m supposed to call someone back or to tell my husband I have a late meeting at work. I forget to get milk at the grocery store when that’s the one thing I went there for. I forget to send birthday and anniversary cards in a timely manner (don’t even get me started on baby or wedding presents). Sometimes (sorry Princess) I forget I haven’t fed the dog since yesterday.  I forget now why I started writing this post….

I used to be AMAZING at remembering things. In college, grad school and early on in my career, I was on top of it. Calendars, to-do lists, and e-mails were all up to date. I didn’t let things slip through the cracks and I was always one step ahead of myself.  

But recently, I’ve noticed a serious slip. Call it old age (does this happen to everyone as soon as they crossover 30?!) or mommy brain (I’m convinced that’s a legit medical condition) or call it whatever you want, but it isn’t pretty. So far (fingers crossed), I haven’t managed to forget anything major. I’m still employed, my kid is safe and my marriage is intact.  I think most people I interact with on a daily basis, know that my forgetfulness isn’t an excuse but a genuine problem I’m struggling with. I truly hope that the next time the phrase “I’m so sorry, I forgot!” comes out of my mouth that my friends, family and colleagues will respond with another F word…forgiveness.

So until I figure out the magic solution for my forgetfulness (Ginkgo biloba, anyone?) please just laugh it off and enjoy receiving our family Christmas card in July.


Monday, June 2, 2014

5 Things to Know if You are Thinking about Adoption

Last week (in the same day!), I had two different people tell me that they are thinking about adopting.  
My first reaction when someone tells me this is: “YAYYYYYYYYYYY!!!”  I try really hard to refrain from jumping up and down and hugging them for a good 5 minutes, but I’m always just so excited when people share that they are starting the adoption process.  I know I’m biased but I think adoption is really the best thing ever in the whole wide world. But I also know that it’s a little bit of a scary time full of unknowns and anxiety.  

Rest assured dear friends, we’ve been there before. Those who’ve traveled the adoption road (with all its bumps and hurdles) have survived and arrived (perhaps a little weary) but with words of wisdom to share.  

Looking back almost 2 years (wow!) since Emily was born, here are 5 things I wish someone would have told me:

  • Cast a wide net. There are several adoption options (surrogacy, foster care, adoption agency, private attorney….) to choose from. Start by exploring each (reading and talking to others who’ve done it) and then narrow it down to the one that is a good fit for you.
  • Start saving now.  Yes, adoption can be expensive. But I was more surprised by little things that popped up that we hadn’t budgeted for (like living in a hotel out of state for 2 weeks!).
  • Build your circle of supporters. Adoption is like any other major life event. Sadly, not everyone is going to support you and some people will say (and do) hurtful things.  Keep a few close friends that will truly encourage you along the way.
  • Trust your gut. You will be faced with making some really tough decisions. Go with what feels right.  Early on we got a call about another birth family. I wanted so badly to say “yes” to but looking back there were red flags and I’m glad we didn’t.
  • There is a plan. God truly does have a perfect plan in His perfect time. Just go with it. It might not be easy at first, but learn to trust Him and accept that nothing we do will change or speed it up!

Adoption changes your life in a way you never expected. At the end of the day, it’s about being a part of something truly amazing. You learn how to open up your heart and home to a little person that makes you look at the world in a whole new way. You love unconditionally and are loved unconditionally. They may not have your eyes or your hair but they have your heart. And it's a beautiful thing.